From BiblePortal Wikipedia

Holman Bible Dictionary [1]

Materials In the earliest periods, tools were made of stone, especially flint. An effective cutting surface was achieved by chipping off flakes along the edge of the shaped stone. The first metal tools were of copper, which proved to be too soft for most applications. It was soon found that much harder tools could be made from bronze, an alloy of copper and tin. Bronze, like copper, could be melted and poured into molds before final shaping by a smith. The hardest tools were made of iron ( Deuteronomy 27:5;  1 Kings 6:5-7 ), which required much higher temperatures to smelt. Iron only came into use in Canaan around 1200 B.C., about the time of the Israelite settlement. Handles and other parts of certain tools were made of wood, leather, bone, or ivory. See Minerals And Metals .

Knives One of the most common of tools is the knife. The flint knives of earlier periods continued in use even after metal became widespread. It has been suggested that the command to use flint knives for circumcision ( Joshua 5:2 NIV) reflects a taboo on using new technology for ancient rites. The real reason, however, is probably more practical: flint knives kept a sharp edge longer than metal blades. Nevertheless, bronze knives became the standard for general use prior to the Israelite monarchy. The blade was cast in a stone mold, and handles of wood were usually attached by a tang or rivets. Iron knives, which became popular during the Israelite monarchy, were made in a similar fashion.

The knife served various purposes and was known in different forms. The average knife in Palestine was between 6,10 inches, but a mold has been found to produce 16-inch blades. These would have been used for general cutting and butchering ( Genesis 22:6;  Judges 19:29 ). A smaller version used by Jehoiakim to cut up Jeremiah's scroll ( Jeremiah 36:23; Kjv, Nrsv “penknife”; NIV, “scribe's knife”) is represented by a Hebrew word elsewhere used for razors ( Numbers 6:5;  Ezekiel 5:1 ). The latter ( Judges 13:5;  Judges 16:17;  1 Samuel 1:11 ) were evidently quite sharp, as they are used as symbols of God's judgment ( Isaiah 7:20 ) and the cutting power of the tongue ( Psalm 52:2 ).

Agricultural Tools Plows had basically the same design from the earliest models known down to those used in the present day in the Near East. The handles, crossbar, and other structural parts were of wood, while the plow point, or plowshare, needed to be of harder material to penetrate the ground. The earliest plowshares were of bronze which was only slowly replaced by iron following the Israelite settlement of Canaan. Early Iron Age levels at several archaeological sites in Palestine have produced examples of both types. Plowshares were elongated blades with a pointed end for cutting into the ground and the other end rolled like a pipe to fit on the wooden shaft. Plows were pulled by animals which were prodded with a goad, a wooden stick fitted with a metal tip ( Judges 3:31;  1 Samuel 13:21;  Ecclesiastes 12:11 ). On hilly or rocky terrain which was difficult to plow, the ground was broken using a hoe ( Isaiah 7:25 Niv; Kjv “mattock”). A similar tool, the mattock (  1 Samuel 13:21 ), was also used for digging chores. It is probably incorrectly translated as “plowshares” in the famous prophetic passages about the tools of war and peace ( Isaiah 2:4;  Micah 4:3;  Joel 3:10 ). Just prior to the monarchy, the Philistines, perhaps holding a monopoly on iron technology, forced the Israelites to come to them for sharpening of agricultural tools. The charge in silver was a pim, two-thirds of a shekel, for sharpening plowshares and mattocks and one-third of a shekel for smaller tools ( 1 Samuel 13:19-22 ). See Weights And Measures .

The reaping of standing grain was done with a sickle ( Deuteronomy 16:9;  Deuteronomy 23:25;  Jeremiah 50:16 ), a small tool with a handle and curved blade. Sickles consisting of several serrated flint segments fitted into a shaft of bone or hollowed out wood were typical of the Canaanite culture. In Israelite and New Testament times, sickles had metal blades and short wooden handles. The sickle is used as a symbol of God's judgment ( Joel 3:13 ) and the ingathering of the saints ( Mark 4:29;  Revelation 14:14-19 ). A tool which resembled the sickle, but with a broader and shorter blade, was the “pruning hook” ( Isaiah 2:4;  Micah 4:3;  Joel 3:10 ). It was a type of knife used for pruning and harvesting grape vines ( Isaiah 18:5 ).

Building Tools The Old Testament mentions several different types of axes used in various hewing chores. The largest ax ( Isaiah 10:15 ) was used for felling trees ( Deuteronomy 19:5;  Deuteronomy 20:19 ) and quarrying stone ( 1 Kings 6:7 ). This type of ax was mentioned as a stone cutting tool in the Siloam Tunnel inscription in Jerusalem. See  Judges 9:48;  1 Samuel 13:20-21;  Psalm 74:5;  Jeremiah 46:22 ). The Hebrew word used for axehead literally means “iron,” indicating its material ( Deuteronomy 19:5;  2 Kings 6:5;  Isaiah 10:34 ). Trimming was done with a different tool ( Jeremiah 10:3 Reb; Niv “chisel”), perhaps an adze with its cutting edge perpendicular to the handle. Small hand axes or hatchets were also known (  Psalm 74:6 Kjv; Nrsv “hammers”; REB, “pick”). A single word is used for axes in the New Testament (  Matthew 3:10;  Luke 3:9 ).

Wood and stone were also cut using saws ( 2 Samuel 12:31;  1 Kings 7:9;  1 Chronicles 20:3;  Isaiah 10:15 ). Single and double-handled varieties are pictured in Egyptian tomb paintings. Bronze was used for the blades in the earlier periods, and iron, in the later. According to an apocryphal work (the Ascension of Isaiah), the prophet Isaiah was martyred by being sawn in two (compare  Hebrews 11:37 ).

Detail work was marked out using a “line” and “compass” ( Isaiah 44:13; NIV, “chisels” and “compasses”). Various types of measuring tools, lines, and chisels have been found in Egyptian tombs. Plumb lines were used quite early in Egypt and Palestine for determining verticality and levels in construction. The true levels determined by the measuring line and the plumb line are compared to the justice and righteousness God required of Israel and Judah ( 2 Kings 21:13; KJV, “plummet”;  Isaiah 28:17;  Amos 7:7-8 ).

Hammers ( Isaiah 44:12;  Jeremiah 10:4 ) were originally stone pounders, but in the Bronze Age holes were often bored for the insertion of a handle. Egyptian paintings show the use of broad wooden mallets not unlike those still used today in sculpture work. The “planes” used in shaping ( Isaiah 44:13 ) were probably chisels (as in the NIV). Chisels were used for rough and detail work in both wood and stone. Holes were made with awls ( Exodus 21:6;  Deuteronomy 15:17 ) or drills.

Industrial Tools Special tools were used in the work of various industries. Early potters used wooden tools to help shape their handmade vessels. A considerable advance came with the invention of the pottery wheel ( Jeremiah 18:3 ). See Pottery.

Weavers conducted their craft on devices called looms. A number of tools were used to assist in the weaving process. In some types of weaving, the horizontal weft threads were “beaten” in with a flat wooden stick. The weaving of patterns required picks and combs to manipulate and press up the threads. These were usually made of bone, less often of ivory or wood. See Spinning And Weaving .

Metalworking required unique tools as well. A bellows was needed to bring a fire to the high temperatures required for smelting ore. Hand operated bellows are shown in an Egyptian tomb painting of Semitic nomads from about the time of Abraham. These were used in small furnaces equipped with nozzles of clay to withstand the extreme heat. Molds were used to shape molten metal into tools, weapons, and other items. Metal smiths also used a variety of tongs, clamps, and hammers ( Isaiah 44:12 ), and the like.

Daniel C. Browning, Jr.

Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible [2]

TOOLS . See Arts and Crafts.

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia [3]

tōōlz  : In the Bible, references to the handicrafts are almost entirely incidental, and not many tools are named. The following article aims to give a list of those mentioned, together with those that must have existed also. For detailed description and the Hebrew and Greek terms employed, see the separate articles.

(1) The percussion tool was the hammer , used for splitting or trimming stone, beating metals, and in wood-carving, as well as for driving nails, tent pins, etc. Several words are translated "hammer," but the distinction between them is very vague and in some cases the propriety of the translation is dubious. Certainly no such distinction is made as that between "hammer" and "mallet," nor were separate names given to the different hammers used in the various crafts (compare, e.g.,   Judges 4:21;  1 Kings 6:7;  Isaiah 44:12;  Jeremiah 10:4 - all for maḳḳābhāh ). See Hammer .

(2) Of cutting tools, the simplest was of course the knife. In  Exodus 20:25 , however, the knife ("sword," English Versions of the Bible "tool") appears as a stone-cutter's implement and is without doubt a chisel. But the hatchet of   Psalm 74:6 may be a knife. See Hatchet; Knife .

For ax , again, various words are employed in a way that is quite obscure to us and apparently with meanings that are not fixed. So garzen in   Deuteronomy 20:19 is certainly an ax, but in the Siloam Inscription (ll 2, 4) it is a pickax (see Mattock ). The various words translated "ax" (the Revised Version (British and American) "axe") must also somewhere include the word for adz , but the specific term, if there were any such ( ma‛ăcādh (?)), is unknown. But the adz is a very ancient tool and must certainly have existed in Palestine. See AX, (AXE), Ax-Head .

The saw was used both for wood and for stone (  1 Kings 7:9 ), in the latter case being employed in connection with water and sand. But sawing stone was a very laborious process, and this was one reason why the ancients preferred stone in large blocks. These were quarried by the use of heavy hammers and wedges. See Saw .

The plane ( maḳcō‛āh ) of   Isaiah 44:13 should be translated chisel . Chisels, of course, are almost as old as humanity, and were used on both wood and stone and doubtless also on metals. In particular, with a broad chisel and an adz the surface of wood may be finished very smoothly, and these two implements took the place of the plane. For wood-carving the concave chisel (gouge) may have been invented.

The pencil of   Isaiah 44:13 is probably a stylus, for engraving as well as for marking out lines. For engraving on gems (  Exodus 28:9 , etc.) particularly delicate instruments of this kind must have been used. See Line; Pencil .

(3) Among the boring tools, only the awl appears (  Exodus 21:6;  Deuteronomy 15:17 ), an instrument primarily for the use of workers in leather. Holes in wood or stone were made by a drill, often worked with the aid of a drawn bow, through the string of which the drill was passed. See Awl .

(4) Blunted tools were of course sharpened on stones, as everywhere. In  1 Samuel 13:21 English Versions of the Bible speaks of sharpening with a file , but the text of the verse is hopelessly corrupt and the translation mere guesswork. But files of some sort (stone?) must of course have been used by metal-workers. See File .

(5) Measuring tools were the line and the rod (see Reed ), and the latter must also have been used as a straight-edge. The compasses of   Isaiah 44:13 were for drawing circles, but doubtless served for measuring also. See Compasses . Plumb-line ( 'ănākh in  Amos 7:7 f, a symbol of the searching moral investigation which would be followed by a precise and exact judgment; compare mishkōleth , "plummet,"  2 Kings 21:13;  Isaiah 28:17 ) and plummet ( 'ebhen bedhı̄l , "a stone of tin,"  Zechariah 4:10 , used by Zerubbabel in testing the completed walls) were likewise necessities and had existed from a very early period. Tools of some sort must have been used in addition by builders in drawing plans, but their nature is unknown. See Line .

(6) The tools for holding and handling work (vises, tongs, pincers, etc.) are never alluded to (the King James Version in  Isaiah 44:12 is wrong; see Tongs ). For moving larger objects no use was made of cranes, and lifting was done by the aid of inclined planes and rollers; but blocks of stone weighing hundreds of tons could be handled in this way.

The material of the Hebrew tools was either iron or bronze. The former was introduced at least by the time of David ( 2 Samuel 12:31 ), but the mention of iron as a material is often made in such a way ( Amos 1:3 , etc.) as to show that it was not to be taken for granted. In fact, iron was hard to work and expensive, and bronze probably persisted for a while as a cheaper material. Stone tools would be used only by the very poor or as occasional makeshifts or for sacred purposes ( Joshua 5:2 ).

For the agricultural tools see Agriculture . See also Carpenter; Crafts; Potter; Smith , etc.